Friday, September 30, 2016

Webb City Sentinel column - 9/31/16

Tomorrow is the first Saturday of the month and that means the streetcar is running!  All aboard at the depot west of the market.  The free rides on historic No. 60 run from 9 to noon.

We shift into fall tomorrow . Of course it looked a lot like fall earlier this week with the pavilion filled with huge beautiful mums from Braker Berry Farm . For only $12, they are a bargain . And the pumpkins are coming in too . But tomorrow officially begins our fall schedule.
Cooking for a Cause is over for the year . Twenty-four local non-profits participated this year . They raised an average of $450 . That’s about $100 more than last year’s average which we think is due in part to more community support and the proximity of the kitchen . Until this year, we prepared most of the breakfast at Central United Methodist Church . If we ran out of food before the end of service we just had to close the breakfast down because it took too long to go back to the church, prepare more breakfast and bring it back . This year however with the wonderfully equipped market kitchen just across the drive if we saw we were going run short on biscuits, gravy or sausage, more was prepared and in place before the customers even knew a crisis had been averted!  Another advantage was that we could buy our eggs at the Thursday market and store them in one of the market’s coolers for Saturday . The church didn’t always have room for 18 dozen eggs . Yes, 18 dozen and we usually had to buy more Saturday morning from our egg farmers.

Just because Cooking for a Cause over doesn’t mean you have to do without breakfast tomorrow – or any Saturday morning because our excellent Stewart’s Bakery will be serving breakfast. Her menu tomorrow is sausage, eggs, biscuit and gravy and hashbrown casserole or breakfast casserole (that’s sausage, eggs, veggies and other good things) with a biscuit and jelly . Either choice is $5 and includes a choice of coffee or juice . Linda Stewart was well known for breakfasts served at her restaurants so we are expecting to be well fed.

This week we go to our fall schedule which means we will be open on Tuesdays from 4 to 6 (it’s an hour shorter than during the summer because it gets dark so much earlier) and on Saturdays from 9 to noon . At the end of October we’ll drop Tuesdays and be open on Saturdays only till the start the 2017 season in the spring.

Suzy, Sammy and Suzette Scarecrow will be regulars at the market starting this week . Take a fall photo with the kids or friends the next time you come . Why not make it a yearly event?  Sammy is 15 years old and Suzy isn’t much his junior . That’s been a lot of photo ops . 

Sammy brings a special memory to mind for me . The lady scarecrows change styles according to the season courtesy of the Disabled Veterans resale shop, but Sammy is wearing the same outfit he began in – one of Joe Grosse’s old overalls . Joe was a friend from church who would give you the shirt off his back – or in this case his overalls . After he retired he became a handy man and had a clientele of “little old ladies” . Little old ladies that he didn’t charge . Younger ladies like me paid a small fee for his service . Now that I would qualify for the little old lady category I miss Joe doubly as much!

Tomorrow we’ll have a pavilion full of vendors – twenty-six, including Robertson’s with honey and frozen blueberries, King’s Kettle Corn, E & O Produce with pumpkins (remember how I told you that Owen loves to grow round things?), Edith Bayless with her sewn goods, Rosemary’s vanilla and lots more . Fairhaven Gardens is doing a taste test of their Apple Butter . Is it cheating to tell you the secret ingredient?  I think so . Try to guess it tomorrow.

William Adkins will play tomorrow from 9 to 11.

On Tuesday, Stewart’s Bakery will have another good lunch for us . Rob Pommert will play.
Extension will sample Butternut Squash Pancakes and Robert Balek our horticulturist with University of Missouri Extension will measure whether the sampling increases sales of the squash . This is one of four research projects that are ongoing at the market. One is a national study, the other three are statewide . There is a column in the near future about how the market is providing data that will hopefully help farmers across the state be more successful and help shape the next federal farm bill. How cool is that?  Webb City’s market makes an impact across the state and even across the nation.

I received a call before the Thursday market this week with a question on our hours . It was a Minnesota number and the caller explained that he and his wife were snow birds and were heading down south for the winter . It was part of their migration ritual to stop at the Webb City market on the way down . I bet they take down some mums that will be the envy of the Valley.

See you at the market!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9-16-16

I hear we’ve been getting some chilly nights and the leaves are beginning to turn in Southwest Missouri (they’re turning here in Mongolia too). So I expect many are thinking of pumpkins and mums. Give us a couple of more weeks. Your market farmers will be bringing them by the truckload soon, but not so soon that they’ll play out before fall is over. We’re experiencing a fall version of spring when the market farmers are under pressure to start bringing plants way too early to put in the ground. Folks get eager to put in their garden, but the market growers try to hold off till your plants won’t freeze in the spring and your pumpkins won’t go soft before Halloween. And they plant accordingly. So bide your time another ten days or so and you’ll find just what you want at the market at just the right time.  (they're worth the wait - photo is mums from last fall.  If you just can't wait, there are a few mums and pumpkins already at the market - the photo below was taken a couple of weeks ago!)

I was sure missing the market today. There is a “super market” very near where Cora, my daughter, lives here in Ulaan Baatar. Pretty much all the grocery stores here are named “something market” using the English word market in the store name – only written in the Cyrillic alphabet. Apparently the concept of a grocery store has British roots here and the alphabet reflects Mongolia being controlled by the Soviet Union for decades. Originally Mongolian didn’t have an alphabet but used a character based system like Chinese does. The name of this particular store – in Cyrillic – appears to be CheapMarket. It’s not. 

Anyway, while shopping today I missed our own market because I bought some particularly sad boc choy. I really thought in Asia they would do boc choy better, but I not found that to be the case. Makes me long for the beautiful greens at the market

The rest of the market’s produce is what I’d called typical grocery store quality. The carrots are a bit of a surprise. Regardless of the size of the market, and I have been in a couple of quite large ones comparable to our own, the carrots are sold covered in dirt. If they are loose there is one disposable glove that everyone is to use to bag their carrots, but if the carrots are pre-bagged – in a printed commercial bag – they are still covered in dirt. I’m not quite sure what the significance is. Perhaps that’s their version of saying “local produce” or maybe it’s just traditional.  (That's the bagged carrots and the same carrots unbagged)

As is traditional at our market, you can expect a lovely day tomorrow. Cooking for a Cause benefits the Webb City High School Band Boosters. William Adkins is performing. Music and meal run from 9 to 11 while market continues till noon.

On Tuesday, the Pommerts will play and on Thursday we have Jack and Lee Ann Sours on stage. Stewart’s Bakery will have some tasty meals available both days.

Next Thursday is the September Twilight Tunnel Walk. The Walk begins at 6 pm at the market’s Winter Production Education Center, 1213 Route U, Rocky Comfort (1.77 miles south of the intersection of State Highway 76 and Route U).

The Walk through the Center’s two high tunnels is led by Extension experts and experienced farmers. This month the topics to be discussed include heating and trapping heat via sidewalls and row cover, transplanting, soil and fertility, anticipated growth and harvest schedules and an up-date from site manager Fue Yang.
This was to be our last walk for the year but the walks have been so well received that we plan to continue them at least one or two more months. 

The walks are free and open to the public. Come if you’re thinking of putting a tunnel up or if you’re just interested in where your food comes from. All are welcome.

And all are welcome at the market as well. Remember, Saturdays are great, but you need to eat all week and the weekday markets are super easy – no lines, easy parking, same great produce. (And I bet the boc choy is wonderful. Steam it and eat as a side – mild lovely flavor and super nutritious.)

Just so you don't feel too sorry for my boc choy sadness - this is the view from our living room window.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9-9-16

We’ve got another fun day planned at the market tomorrow. The Fiber Folks of Southwest Missouri will do spinning demonstrations. This organization started in 2000, the same year as the market, and is now 70 members strong. They focus on fiber and hand-crafting and their interest, and classes, range from spinning and weaving to bead work to felting and more.

Cooking for a Cause benefits the Cerebral Palsy of Tri-County, aka the CP Center here in Webb City. Located across from the old Jane Chinn Hospital, they serve developmentally disabled and medically fragile children from Jasper, Newton and McDonald counties. No child is turned away because of a family’s inability to pay for the services.  You enjoy a tasty breakfast for less than $5 and the profit from your breakfast will make children’s lives, and that of their families, better. Breakfast includes biscuits and gravy, sausages, eggs cooked to order and coffee or juice.

No Apparent Reason, the house band of the Woodshed in Carthage, always plays the day we host the
CP Center. One of their members is married to the center’s director, Dr. Christy Graham. The band’s regular fee is about twice what we can pay so they donate their show and we donate our standard band fee to the CP Center. If you make it tomorrow, you’ll understand why their price is more than we can budget – they are a really good. Now their jokes on the other hand…

On Tuesday we welcome a new band to the market stage – The Geriatrics. 

On Thursday, Scott Eastman plays. On both Tuesday and Thursday Stewart’s Bakery will have some tempting options for meals.

Things are happening off the market site as well. Our thanks to the Master Gardeners led by long time market volunteer Dale Mermoud for putting in a long day this week at the Kids Community Garden. Nine classes of first graders watched as the potatoes they planted last fall when they were kindergarteners were harvested. The potatoes were then donated to a local charity. 

In the afternoon, the master gardeners worked with 17 middle schoolers to do the final harvest and clean up the garden for winter. Our generous market farmers donated enough produce after the Tuesday market to provide each child with a bag full of veggies.

This Wednesday, September 14, the market will sponsor a workshop on blackberries at the Mt Vernon Research Cnter from 1 to 4 pm.  The class will focus on fall management of the shift trellis system and insect and disease management.  In addition to classroom presentations, participants will have hands-on instructions at the market's blackberry plot at the center.  The workshop is led by University of Missouri Extension horticulturist Patrick Byers.  The cost is $10 per person and you can download the registration form on the market’s website: under the “grower training” tab.

As usual, the market will be full of fresh local produce this week, learning opportunities, good meals, good causes, and good music. Enjoy the season.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Webb City Sentinel column - 9/3/16

Labor Day is on Monday and that means that our wonderful volunteer Karen McGlamery will be doing her annual “workers at the market” facebook post on Saturday. She takes a photo of each vendor and any family helping that day, and of volunteers and musicians and posts the photos with everyone’s names. It is a celebration of those whose labors create and sustain the market. It’s also a great resource for me and others who manage the market so we have a visual and written record of names and faces. Some of our vendors have very large families and I am terrible at remembering names. It took me two years to tell David and Matthew Brubacker apart which is particularly sad since David has blue eyes and Matthew brown. But there are 17 names, including parents, to remember in that family!

I find our vendors, especially our farmers, remarkable people in part because of their labor. (photo - thinning the peaches at Pates Orchard in 2010) Their hours are incredibly long during the summer. They rise before dawn and retire long after dark. Just harvesting and preparing produce for market takes hours, not to mention the time driving to and from market – for many that adds two hours to the day, selling at market, then packing up, and once back on the farm cleaning and putting away bins and other equipment used at the market. I have at least one set of farmers who do most of their harvesting after dark using head lamps. That way the produce is harvested after it has cooled a bit from the heat of the day which means that it will cool down faster in the cool room and be fresher longer for the customer. During the day they cultivate, pulling weeds, running irrigation, planting, scouting for pests. It makes for long days and yet once at the market, they are cheerful and welcoming and act like they have all the time in the world.

Something first noted by Sentinel editor Bob Foos is the remarkable transformation we often see in the farmers from summer to winter. Bob attended one of our organizational meetings one January early in the market’s existence. Later he asked me why one of our regular farmers didn’t attend. “He was there. He just didn’t look like he’d been working 80 hour a week.”  Indeed I had a similar experience the next winter when I visited a farmer and hardly recognized the parents of the family. They’d both put on a little weight and they looked ten years younger. These people work hard. So hats off to them and all the other folks who feed us every day.

The streetcar is running today!  Catch a free ride at the depot west of the market from 9 to 11.

Cooking for a Cause will benefit Camp Quality which hosts summertime experiences for children with cancer. Biscuits and gravy, sausages, eggs cooked to order, coffee or juice for under $5.

The Granny Chicks will take the market stage and I guarantee a good time. Who knew accordions could be such fun?  Music and meal run from 9 to 11. The market is open till noon.

Next week Stewart’s Bakery will have tasty meals – Tuesday is supper, Thursday is lunch. Rob Pommert plays on Tuesday. Bill Adkins on Thursday.

Next Saturday we’ll be hosting a weaving demonstration by the Fiber Folks of Southwest Missouri. Breakfast will benefit the CP Center and No Apparent Reason will play bluegrass and tell some jokes that will make you groan. 

Now don’t forget, even though Monday is a holiday, it won’t be for our farmers and they will be at the market Tuesday starting at 4. I hope you will be too!